Thinking 'Two' DeepBy Bill & Chris Sitter
Article Date: 04-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Viewing candidates with an eye to their future roles is key to succession planning, which will help prevent management gaps in your company.
How will your company deal with the loss of half its senior managers by 2010? That's a staggering thought, but a Caliper study has reported that surveyed companies expect to lose 50 percent or more of their senior leadership in the next three years. Hopefully your dealership's percentage is much lower; but what if it is even 25 percent? Think about the impact of having to replace excellent, effective, proven and loyal leaders in: finance, sales, parts, service, marketing, and branch or general management roles. That's a lot to ponder - for sure.Now, we realize that many progressive AED dealers have various mentoring and career development programs in place as part of their succession planning. However, having managed a few distributorships, I (Bill) am very aware of the need to control costs and especially watch headcount. Today's dealers face tough challenges when they try to build a "two-deep" managerial depth chart. This dilemma leads us to a discussion of hiring from the outside as one key element of succession planning. Let's explore how you can get the utmost when bringing in new managers.We recommend that industry executives consider a fresh look at their organization charts, down to at least branch level managerial roles. Fill in the current managers' names and then add names of prospective successors. (My college football coach always gave us a "three- deep" manning chart before each game.) Looking at your personnel chart with succession, or depth, in mind may be a bit of an eye opener - but that can be good if reality leads you and your executive leadership team to promote and hire with the goal of creating a "two-deep" organizational chart, whenever possible.The first order of succession planning should definitely focus on development of current employees. We will not address that topic in this brief article, except to encourage proactive career development initiatives. As a firm that observes managers and companies from the outside, we can assure you that top people want to know specifically what they can do, and what you will provide, to help them advance their career and assume more responsibility for your organization. Encourage that!Hiring from the outside - for any key positions - should ideally include two elements. First, you naturally focus on the candidates "fit" (skills, experience, compatibility to your company culture, and their verifiable track record) to the position spec you developed for the immediate opening. Second, interview him/her also with thought to potential advancement in concert with the candidate's career goals and your future needs. To do this properly, we recommend you actually look at the position specs for likely jobs at the next level up. See if you and your hiring team can really envision this potential new hire moving up on your depth chart. Granted, they may not be ready now for that second level. But ask yourself if you can project this new hire being ready and able to take on a more responsible position, given a few years in the role you are actually interviewing him/her to fill.What we just outlined (hiring for two levels) may stretch your normal hiring selection process. However, if the Caliper survey projections are anywhere close to accurate, you have to ask the hard question: Can we afford not to hire with succession in mind?Our firm has recruited managerial talent for nearly 30 years. We especially enjoy the challenge of helping our dealer and manufacturer clients hire candidates who can excel in the initial role and who will also have the clear opportunity to advance to greater levels of responsibility. As a hiring authority, or part of an interview team, you are not only "selling" the immediate opportunity and your company, and even the area - you are also selling a future. If you succeed in this, we are confident your dealership will have a solid depth chart so you can compete and win today and for the long term.Summary advice:
Plan for succession up and down the ladder
Establish internal career path planning and mentoring programs for your future leaders
When hiring from the outside, focus on impact players for the immediate opening, with the future needs of your company in view
The best possible depth chart ensures long-term success
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